Braised Lamb Shanks with Fennel, Celery Root and Olives


Main dish

Braised Lamb Shanks with Fennel, Celery Root and Olives

Braised lamb shanks are always flavorful and tender and make the perfect Sunday supper for cooler weather. Serve with bread to absorb the aromatic juices, and perhaps a green salad on the side. With aromas of tobacco, spice, and berries a Cabernet Franc from France's Loire Valley is a superb pairing for lamb.

4 lamb shanks

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 fennel bulb, diced small

1 softball-size celery root (celeriac), peeled and diced small

2 large shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf tied together or wrapped in cheesecloth)

2 cups dry red wine

2 cups beef broth (either homemade or low-sodium canned)

1 cup green olives, pits in

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil

1 splash Ricard or Pernod licorice flavored liqueur (optional)

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (use a microplane if you can)

Salt and pepper the lamb shanks liberally. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Brown the lamb shanks all over. Take your time with this and get them really nice and brown. Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.

Lightly brown the fennel, celery root, shallots and garlic in the pan used for the meat, about 5 minutes. Add the meat back to the pan. Add the bay leaf, bouquet garni, wine and broth. Cover the pan and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

Add the olives and sun-dried tomatoes to the pot. If necessary, add a little more wine or broth. Simmer, covered, an additional 30 minutes, or until the meat is nearly falling off the bone.

If you’d like to emphasize the fennel flavor and bring out the mellowness of the olives, add a splash of Ricard or Pernod. This really does enhance the dish and is very Mediterranean. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and/or pepper to taste. Just before serving, sprinkle the lamb with the lemon zest.

You can gently pull the meat off the bone and serve it as a stew, or as a sauce over pasta. You can also serve these on the bone as is, or over polenta. Be sure to mention to your diners that the olives contain pits! Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 319 calories, 38 percent calories from fat, 22 g fat, (3.9 g sat fat, 7.6g mono fat), 104 mg cholesterol, 33.8 g protein, 14.0 g carbohydrate, 3.7 g fiber, 202 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted from “The Food 52 Cookbook” by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs and the Food 52 community (Morrow) $35.

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